Elaine Altman

Elaine Altman

City Commissioners accepted the resignation of the City Finance Director Elaine Altman during Thursday’s virtual meeting.

The announcement came after the group broke into closed session to discuss the personnel matter.

Also during the meeting City Manager Mark Rohr presented on the Mobilize Marshall plan, updating commissioners on the progress the plan has made in the last year.

The plan was developed in June 2019 after public input and prioritization by city commissioners.

“We thought it was a good point in time to review our Mobilize Marshall plan and discuss the progress we have made,” Rohr said.

Rohr said that the plans progress has been delayed in a number of ways by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, but progress has still been made.

He gave an update on a number of the programs created by the city to help reach goals set by the community during the Mobilize Marshall public meeting. The first portion of the plan, which would be accomplished in one to three years, outlines a number of projects the city has already started, or has in the works for 2020.

Projects include the creation of promotional brochures for the city that Rohr said they have focused on distributing to businesses who have shown interest in opening a location in Marshall.

“This is something we are doing while still remaining aware of the current situation,” Rohr said. “We will continue to as we compile a list.”

Rohr said that the city has focused on economic development by creating funding for and organizing the economic development department directed by Wes Morrison.

He said that the city also continues to work closely with MEDCO and created the Cradle of Entrepreneurship program to help encourage the continued economic development of the city.

Rohr said that the city also successfully established the small business loan program, which offers about $170,000 in funds for small businesses locally, and is also working on pursing more grant opportunities.

Morrison also gave an update during the presentation on the Neighborhood Redevelopment Program which is working with its first neighborhood, the Newtown neighborhood, to create an improvement plan for that community.

He added that the city is also working on an anti-littering campaign that was put on hold due to the inability to gather because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rohr added that though they have not been able to gather, the Marshall Police Department has been enforcing code violations for littering, which he said will also help change the culture of the city and preventing littering in the future.

Rohr also gave an update on the status of the city’s Downtown Redevelopment Plan, that was met with mixed reviews by the community after its initial presentation in November 2019.

Rohr said that the project is broken down into four areas; streetscaping, Lady Bird Garden, the parking lot on the East side of the courthouse being turned into a gathering spot, and the development of a trail system. Portions of the project are moving ahead, while others are being placed on hold for the time being.

He said that as early as the next Commissioners meeting July 23, commissioners will be presented with legislation regarding funding for the streetscaping portion of the downtown project.

The instillation of a trail system is also in the works, according to Rohr, along with improvements to Airport Park, with the Lady Bird Garden and parking lot gathering spot projects placed on hold.

Public works director Eric Powell said that the trail system would include a trail from City Park to Pope Street, which was an old exisiting railbed, along with the Johnson Street sidewalk project, which will go down Johnson Street to City Hall.

Rohr added that the city hoped to add more trails to the system in the future which would connect to the downtown area and create a hub of activity in that area.

“I want to remind people that there are other aspects of the plan accompanying the street scaping improvements, including the design review standards and TIF,” Rohr said.

Morrison spoke on the instillation of design review standards to the commission, stating that they hoped to hold public meetings to get community input on the new standards before presenting them to the commission, which he hoped to do by the end of 2020.

He said that once the review standards are in place the city can work to create the Tax Increment Finance District (TIF), which Rohr said would not include a tax increase but would help the city continue to grow its tax revenue.

“TIF is a resourceful way to hopefully have funds in the future to fund later downtown development,” Rohr said.

Rohr said that the city has also outlines a cultural arts district that they plan to establish as the downtown plan develops.

“I hope it is obvious to everyone that we have been very busy,” Rohr said.